Daniels Faculty Midday Talk with Professor John Danahy, U of T
Date: Thursday, March 7
Time: 1:00 PM
Location: 230 College Street, Room 103
"Looking at Things Not Yet Done" with Professor John Danahy
John Danahy has been looking at things not yet done for about as long as computers have been able to produce a moving solid shaded image. He led the team that built the first comprehensive computer aided design system for landscape architecture. John advocates that design thinkers are not well supported by commercial computing tools and should seriously consider directing more of their inventive design skills toward the disciplinary aspects of design thinking that computers can support.
The implication is that designers should look at the way they design as much as what they design. Designers should specify their own software adaptations and they should hire software “trades” to realize their vision for a better way to design. In recent years, John has been using the tools he has had made for his practice in urban design to experiment with educating and improving the spatial literacy skills of not only his students, but the spatial literacy of citizens that become the clients of professional services. He predicts that the rising knowledge and appetite among the general population for good and effective design will transform the nature of the professions that accommodate people and build their places of inhabitation. He contends that the computer is the only way to imagine possible futures in this complex space where designs will increasingly be negotiated in visual spatial dialogue.
John Danahy is a professional Landscape Architect, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, and an OALA Academic Councilor. Professor Danahy has developed an internationally recognized expertise in digital media for design, planning and visualization. He teaches in landscape architecture, urban design, planning, architecture, and computer science. His mentors and influences include Jan Gehl (Copenhagen), Jim Clark (SGI), Alain Fournier (CSRI) and Ron Baecker (KMDI). He has lead the development of research software systems at the Centre for Landscape Research (CLR) and been a pioneer in the use of computing and virtual reality in urban design and landscape architectural practice. He is Director of the CLR, a steering committee member of the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) and a founding member of the Canadian Design Research network (CDRN).
Since joining the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto in 1981, he has concentrated his creative professional practice work through the CLR on numerous innovative commissions with consulting firms, agencies, cities and citizens groups as a means of engaging basic research in design funded from the bottom up. His projects focus on urban design work that applies the basic research technologies invented at CLR and in other collaborating labs for the National Capital Commission in Ottawa-Gatineau, the City of Ottawa, the City of Toronto, the Friends of Fort York, and numerous university research labs. The most recent example of design visualization work he has developed contributed to a Development Strategy Study for the Toronto Community Housing Corporation by DuToit Allsopp Hillier on the two brown-field development blocks on the eastern edge of Fort York National Historic Site (this work received a 2006 Award of Excellence, Canadian Institute of Planners). His other research area in urban social factors design has produced encouraging results in the newly formed MLA Programme at Toronto where two of his MLA thesis students have won ASLA Graduate Thesis Honor Awards (2003, 2006) in the annual graduate thesis competition.